I must admit to a little bit of glee at seeing Dave Carroll's latest video in response to the poor customer service he received from United Airlines. If you don't know the story, Carroll apparently witnessed baggage handlers tossing his guitar on the tarmac as he sat on a United Airlines plane. The guitar broke and according to Carroll, United Airlines refused to pay for the damage. Carroll is a country music signer with no small following, so he decided to seek his own brand of justice by posting a series of three music videos to You Tube.
The first video Carroll posted has been viewed by over 5 million people. United clearly tried to point to their fine print policies to avoid paying for the damage to Carroll's guitar, but that was very myopic thinking. United did offer Carroll a settlement once they got wind of the video's surging popularity (and widespread news coverage), but that was too little, too late. And, knowing United, I'm pretty sure they haven't learned much from it.
That's not to say that every customer is honest. Many customers lie and even steal. However, Carroll's story highlights the need to consider the big picture the next time you are tempted to play the policy card with a customer. If you want a real business case for being a bit flexible, check out CRM Learning's outstanding "What's a customer worth?" activity. I'd be willing to wager United has lost far more than the cost of a guitar in business due to this fiasco.
You can see Dave Carroll's latest installment below.